Melly Was Here

wife, mother, teacher, runner, writer, lover, fighter

April Again.

April has come and gone.  It’s a weird month for me, try as I do to make that not so.

We said goodbye to my big brother 13 years ago in April. And then, two years ago, my dad.

It’s also Autism Awareness Month.  As someone who has stepped out of the Autism Wars, it brings up a lot of old stuff of when Sundance was first diagnosed. Sad stuff.

And, I turned 41 this month.  I love my birthday.  And so far, my  forties are my favorite.

April has been bittersweet.  And I find myself going back and forth from sadness to happiness, from remembering really shitty days to being thankful those days are in the past and we are all doing so much better.

And now it’s May.  The school year is wrapping up.  I have a mountain of paperwork and a classroom to close up. Field trips and Special Olympics, class parties and school concerts.

Life goes on.

We miss those we loved and said goodbye to.  Miss them so much.  We know that they would be happy for us.  They would be proud of what we have overcome and what we are looking forward to.

They wouldn’t want us to stop dreaming, they wouldn’t want us to stop fighting for health and happiness. Because they loved us as much as we loved them.

So, here goes: Summer is coming.  And it is going to be a good one.

Because life goes on.

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At Wildseed Farms in Fredricksburg, Texas. My new happy place.

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My loves, being rebels. That sign is not the boss of them.

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Have You Had Your Boobies Checked?

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Ok, here’s the thing: boobs are awesome.  But, they can also kill you.  Since it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I feel the urge to bring this up.  Again: Boobs are awesome.

Mammograms are not that bad.  I did it back when I turned 40.  I took a ride on the Boobie Bus.  Then, I even had to go back to get Lefty checked.

I’m ok.  No cancer.  And, what a relief to know that.  I’ll be getting The Girls checked again in April, when I turn 41.  It’s like a present to myself: taking care of The Girls.

If you are over 40, go.  Just go and get them checked. If you are over 20, you should be doing exams once a month, to make sure there are not any suspicious lumps.  And, if you find one.  Go get it checked out.  Be kind to your boobies!

Here is how to give yourself an exam:

Breast Exam Video  

Here is some info about mammograms, if you are afraid of the unknown (but really, it’s just your boobies getting squished between two pieces of plastic):

What to Expect On the Boobie Bus

So, what are you waiting for?  Go!

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Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

I did it! I ran my first half marathon. And, I did it Disney. Oh yeah. Disney knows how to put on an event.

The idea was conceived last year when my childhood friends and I were talking about turning 40. We wanted to do something special. Since a lot of us were runners, we decided to commit to running a half marathon together. And, the Disneyland Half just seemed like the most appropriate one to run. I mean, who doesn’t love Mickey Mouse.

Heather, the ultimate planner, found us a package. We were able to make payments and all pitch in and afford a room for the weekend at the beautiful Grand Californian Hotel right inside the Disneyland Resort. What a beautiful hotel! We loved every minute of our stay there.

We also had the bonus of seeing two other lifelong friends. Peter, who was in town for a business meeting, decided to stay the weekend and hang out with us. He was even on the same flight from San Francisco as Heather ( AKA Busty). Peter was our support person. He took many of our pictures and was at the finish line to greet us. It was so good to see him.

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Peter, me and Heather at LAX.

We checked into our hotel and went to the Expo to get our numbers.  The line was very long (lines at Disney? NO WAY!)

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At the hotel!

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No turning back now! We have our numbers!

That night, we met my favorite aunts, JoAnn and Kris for dinner in Downtown Disney.  Love them.

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I thought I was taller than them.

Our friend, Marc, lives in Anaheim and is a big Disney fan. This was his third Disney Half. He had us over for a pasta dinner the night before the race. I had not seen Marc since the 8th grade.  We enjoyed meeting his family and talking about our childhood.  I ended the night feeling so lucky to have these life long friends in my life.

After dinner, we all went back to the hotel and got to bed early.  I started to get kind of nervous.  I don’t really know why, but I kept everyone up for an hour or two chatting hysterically.  Finally, Jenny asked me to whisper so she could sleep and I got the hint.

We all got up at 3:00 AM and got dressed in our costumes. I was a nervous wreck. I don’t know why.  The unknown?

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Jenny as Minnie Mouse. She had ears, but I didn’t notice she didn’t have them on.

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Kerry as Peter Pan. So cute!

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Heather as a pirate. She has a thing for pirates.

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Me as Mrs. Incredible.

We walked down to the finish line and met up with Marc and his friend, Heather.  We were in Corral E, I think, so it took about a half an hour after Corral A started for us to get to begin.  We finally got up the start line and got started.

I must say, I enjoyed every step of the run.  Running through the park was amazing.  There were tons of Disney employees out to cheer us on.  Running in Cars Land was awesome.  It was just like running in Radiator Springs.  Running passed It’s a Small World got me a little choked up.  The last time I was there, I wouldn’t have dreamed I could be a runner. I love that I’m a runner.  Running changed my life.

We left the park and ran through Anaheim towards Angel Stadium.  Lining the streets along the race route were high school bands, cheer squads and classic cars.  They were all cheering for us as we ran by.   I loved that there was so much to see as we ran.  It made the miles go much more quickly.

Running through Angel Stadium was the coolest.  As we entered the stadium, there was cheering and clapping. The course was lined with Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts cheering for us and high fiving.  I could not stop smiling.

After Angel Stadium, the course headed back to Disneyland. The closer we got to the park, the more people there were, high fiving and cheering us on. Without all of those well wishers,  I am not sure I would have been able to meet my goal of running the entire thing.

I crossed the finish line and got my medal.  My beautiful medal.  I met up with Peter and waited for Heather.  Then, we found Kerry and Jenny.

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Us with our medals!

I love this picture.  It was such a great feeling, setting a physical goal and then meeting it in this amazing way.  I had so much fun that weekend.   I laughed all weekend long.  Seeing these girls again and getting caught up did my soul well.

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All of us with our medals. Said goodbye to Marc after this was taken. 😦

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Kerry and me at lunch after the run. Nothing like pizza and beer after a long, hot run.

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In Cars Land after the race. We said goodbye to Peter after this. Wish he would have stayed another day!

Ok, so here are my thoughts about the actual run and what I think went right:  I’m glad that I used Body Glide between my legs.  I was very thankful for my water belt (I also drank at every water station).  I was also glad that I had my GU.  I am so thankful for my iPod and all of my music!   I was also glad that I tried Immodium AD, to keep me from having to stop every five minutes and poop.  I had tried it two weeks before to see when and how much worked for me.  I know that some people think it’s a bad idea, but it worked for me and I was happy with the outcome.  Most of all, I am so glad that I got to share this experience with my friends (the run, not the Immodium, although I did  over share  when it came to my body functions.  Sorry, girls).

My only not having my sunglasses with me.  The race started when it was still dark, but the sun came up and I was running right into it for a long time.  Next time, I’ll put them in my water belt pocket in case I need them.

So, what’s next?  The Rock and Roll Marathon here in San Antonio.  Even though I ran every step of this run, I think that is good enough.  I am going to use the Galloway Run/Walk Method.   I am also going to make a point to volunteer at some local events soon.  Volunteers are so important!

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Weights Off My Chest – literally and figuratively

Today is the first day of Summer Vacation!  Yay!  Not the only reason I love being a teacher, but in the top ten reasons for sure.  It’s nice to slow down and spend time with the boys.  It’s nice not to have to get up to an alarm clock for a couple of months.  I feel like I have the best of both worlds – work outside of the home mom and stay at home mom.  I get to stay home during the summer, and just when I start to need more to do and the boys need to get back to a real routine, it’s August again.  And then, when I am just burnt out from school and the routine and need a break, it’s June again.  I love that.

Anyways, I have never been more glad that it’s June.  There were a lot of things going on.  Class parties, paperwork, report cards, concerts, assemblies.  And, Butch’s Promotion Ceremony.  My baby boy is now a middle schooler.  He turns 12 tomorrow.  Where has the time gone?

I started the day by going in and getting another mammogram on my left boob.  It wasn’t aboard the Boobie Bus, this time.  It was down in the Medical Center, at a cancer hospital.  I had planned on taking silly pictures and posting a light-hearted post about it, but when I walked in the doors and saw the families there visiting cancer patients, shit kinda got real.

The staff was so kind and gentle.  I was taken back right away, even though I was early.  I changed and was seated in the inner waiting area, with four other women, all of us in our front opening robes.

The actual mammogram was pretty quick.  She had to get images up higher on my boob and deeper in the tissue.  This meant lots of leaning and some serious squishing.  Poor Lefty is pretty sore.  She took two images and was pretty quick.  She then walked me back to the inner room, where all the other ladies were still sitting and I waited until whoever was reading the images read them and told me he/she wanted an ultrasound or I was ok to go.

While I waited, the other ladies were one by one told they could leave, all was ok.  I was alone for a few minutes.   Then, I was told I was ok.  Everything was clear.  With a huge sigh of relief, I decided I deserved ice cream.

As I left, I said a prayer for all the ladies who came before and will come to that place after me.  That the news is good or if not, they caught it quickly enough.  I can’t imagine what it must feel like to have cancer and to wonder if you are going to pull through.    To wonder if you are going to leave your husband a widower or your children motherless.  I just can’t imagine.

I couldn’t find an ice cream shop and I didn’t want to drive around.  I settled for a Frappachino at Starbuck’s.  As I was handing the dude my card, he handed me the drink and said, “Free!”

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Cancer Free and Free Coffee!

You can’t beat that!  No cancer and then a free drink!  Right on.

Then I went home and gave my dogs their pupsicles (frozen beef broth).  That was worth about a half an hour of entertainment, until Jack wanted to come in the house with his.

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“Hey, canth Ith comth inth the houth?”

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“If I sit like a pretty boy, can I bring it in?”

And then Scout lost hers in the bushes and tried to take Jack’s.  She chased him around the yard for a while, which is always a good time for Jack.

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“Gimme that yummy cold thing!”

And, then I took the boys to the pool.  And, I was nice to people.  I disapproved on no one.  It was fun.

If this first day is an indication of who my summer is going to go, it is going to be a great one.

Happy Summer, y’all.

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Take a Ride on the Boobie Bus!

So, as you all know, I am forty now. So are the boobs. You know what that means! Mammogram. I know that there are all kinds of statistics out there about early detection and a better survival rate. I am too lazy to look them up and cite them here, but I know they are out there. I mean, common sense, right?

I got an email from the Health and Wellness chick at my school. They were going to offer free mammograms at one of the high schools on a mobile mammogram unit. Or, as I like to call it: a boobie bus. They really couldn’t have made it any easier. Which was really cool because I have a tendency to put important stuff off if it requires too much effort. I just had to email and make an appointment. Then, on Friday I left school a little early (thanks to my awesome principal) and jumped on the Boobie Bus.

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The Boobie Bus

I checked in and got my disrobing instructions. The nurse made sure to tell me three times to disrobe from the waist up only. I couldn’t help but wonder if she was telling me that because some people have come out naked or if I looked liked the type of person who would come out naked. I was a little flustered from the drive over. Friday traffic can be crazy. There’s a good chance she asked me because she was under the impression I was the type to come out with my butt and other girl parts enjoying the breeze (the bus was air-conditioned).

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Here I am in my robe. I would like it noted that I have my pants on.

I got dressed and waited for a few minutes until it was my turn. The technician was really cool. She explained to me what she was going to do and she told me that leaning in was the most important thing to do. The more I leaned in, the better the images she could get and the faster this whole thing would go.

Now, I’m not a shy person so dropping my robe was not difficult for me. I mean, this tech was a woman and honestly, I can’t even imagine how many boobs she’s seen in her career. I couldn’t help but feel a little silly, though. I hate the unknown. I really do. And, I’m not that great of a listener, so listening to directions is hard for me.

She came around behind me and asked me lean it. I was bound and determined to be an EXCELLENT LEANER. Then she lifted my boob and placed it on the machine plate thingy. It was just a little weird having another person lifting the boob. Not many people have touched my boob in my life, let alone lifted it up. Then, she told me to lift my arm up and LEAN IN. I tried my best. The biggest issue was that there was the machine in the way and I had to smush my face against it, with my arm up and my boob between two pieces of glass. All while staying completely still.

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Reenactment

 

My dear friend, Glo, who has been riding the Boobie Bus for a few years now, told me not to look down. She said that it was very disturbing to see your boobie smushed flat like a pancake with a nipple. I didn’t look down. I looked up. I didn’t want to be disturbed.

It hurt, I’m not going to lie. The tech was really fast, but damn. She took some extra images of my left boobie. It was a little sore the next day.

An hour later, they called and said that they want to see me again. They want to look at the left one a little closer. I’m not going to worry yet. Even if there was something there (I don’t feel a lump or anything abnormal) we are catching it early. Early detection is the key. I take comfort in the fact that whatever it is, if it’s anything, I went it and got it checked early. I am proud of myself for that – being on top of it.

If you are thinking you need to go in and get your girls checked, do it. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family or if you’re forty, don’t avoid it because you’re scared. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s fast and so worth it. Because there are people who love you and need you to be around.

 

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Forty Things I’ve Learned in My Forty Years

401. Your mama loves you.

2. Love is special. Cherish it.

3. Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend.

4. Get fitted for a bra. You are probably wearing the wrong size.

5. Stay away from negative people.

6. Own your mistakes, but don’t blame yourself for other’s mistakes.

7. Moderation in all things – except coffee, chocolate and love.

8. The laundry will keep, hold your babies.

9. Always sacrifice sleep for sex or a good book.

10. No one will love you like your dog.

11. When you find a good man, tell him he how much you love him. Love him like he deserves.

12. Find your passion. And pursue it.

13. Drink lots of water.

14. Rest.

15. Don’t be afraid to look silly. Just have fun.

16. Moisturize.

17. Use sunscreen.

18. Say the nice things you think about the people in your life. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

19. If it not helpful or kind, keep it to yourself.

20. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said.

21. Pray.

22. Say what you mean, mean what you say.

23. Create traditions with your children.

24. Take pictures.

25. Talk about the good times with your kids, help them remember.

26. Try your hardest to be kind. You never know what that cashier or waitress is going through. Your kindness might make all the difference.

27. Snuggle.

28. Take risks.

29. Plan.

30. Don’t gossip. You are better than that.

31. Put some effort into your appearance.

32. Always try to better yourself.

33. Laugh at yourself.

34. Go see the tourist attractions in your own city.

35. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

36. Pay your bills on time.

37. Credit cards are the devil. If you can’t pay cash for it, don’t buy it!

38. Keep your house clean. Be proud of where you live.

39. It’s ok to ask for help.

40. Forgive.

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